North Highland Village
by Ian McDonough
We’re born to see round corners, but struggle sometimes
with panoramic vistas. Broken decorations from last Xmas
hang from lampposts: the hotel bar has abandoned
its Friday Happy Hour as no–one was happy,
apart from Bella McKay, who was far too happy.
Under the stone bridge the river is in spate — black water
topped with dirty creamy foam. Running
in everyone’s veins, the last thin words of Gaelic, trace–elements
of Pictish, harsh calls of Neolithic hunters. Blue eyes, red hair,
pink cheeks, a measgnachadh of folk populates the spread
of council houses, crofts and granite strongholds. Fishing boats
named after daughters bob against the harbour wall. The local doctor
sits to tea alone, eyes his glass of whisky, iPhone, salmon
on a china plate. Today Col–bheinn is wreathed in snow, tomorrow
it is all of us. The Co–op is selling strawberries from God knows where.
Great gusts of wind blow through Seaforth Place, pinning stray memories
onto fences, trees, parked cars. With night comes a crimson moon,
shining above the Free Church manse. Village ghosts will dance.